Kingdom Hearts (universe)
The Kingdom Hearts universe (キングダム ハーツ, Kingdom Hearts) refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from the action role-playing game (ARPG) franchise created by Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft) in collaboration with Disney, the official owner of the franchise. The series primarily centers around the adventures of Sora, who travels across various worlds themed after properties owned by Disney and its subsidiaries while stopping schemes plotted by both original antagonists and Disney villains. Since the release of its first installment in 2002, the franchise has been one of the best-selling action RPG series in the world and is most notable for its crossing-over of Disney properties with various Square Enix properties, such as Final Fantasy. Alongside Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts is considered a flagship franchise for Square Enix.
The origins of Kingdom Hearts can be traced back to conversations between Squaresoft executive Shinji Hashimoto and Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi in the late 1990s. The developer was in a financially unstable position at the time and needed a blockbuster success to save them from going bankrupt. The two bemoaned about Square needing a game like Super Mario 64, but realizing only a company like Disney has characters that could rival the popularity of Mario. Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura overheard these conversations and volunteered to create this project. By a stroke of luck, Square and Disney of Japan shared an office building at the time. Hashimoto would have a chance encounter with a Disney executive in an elevator which allowed him to pitch the concept of using Disney properties in this game, which was eventually approved in 2000.
It was eventually decided that the game would be a crossover title with Disney and Final Fantasy characters interacting with original characters, however contention arose when settling on the game's premise and direction. The lead protagonist was undecided between the two companies, so Nomura created an original character, Sora, to serve as the protagonist instead. Disney approved the concept on the condition that all original characters, settings, and assets would be fully owned by them. The storyline and narrative would be helmed by Nomura, marking his debut as a director and lead writer, and it was originally planned to be a simple narrative meant to appeal to Disney's core audience. However after a meeting with Sakaguchi, Nomura elevated the storyline to better appeal to Final Fantasy fans. The game eventually morphed into Kingdom Hearts, which released for the PlayStation 2 on March 28, 2002.
The game was a critical and financial success both in Japan and internationally, eventually becoming the tenth best-selling game on the system. The release outside of Japan is notable for having content that was not in the initial release due to time constraints. The game received a Director's Cut re-released in Japan with this new content along with more content made specifically for this version, titled Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix. This started a trend of games getting the Final Mix treatment, with most of them being exclusive to Japan for years. Due to the success of the first game’s sales, the real time aerial action RPG battle system of Kingdom Hearts became the main basis for some modern Final Fantasy games, particularly the arena fighting game spin-off series Dissidia Final Fantasy, and Final Fantasy XV. Similar aerial combat scenes are also shown in the animated spin-off follow up movie to Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children.
A sequel was immediately put into production. To tide fans over, an interquel was co-developed by Jupiter for the Game Boy Advance in 2004 titled Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. The game experimented by having a card-based combat system that has been referenced but never replicated. Unlike other side projects, Chain of Memories is integral to the overall plot and is directly referenced in future installments. The game was fully remade in 2007 for PlayStation 2, titled Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, and this version has been re-released ever since.
Another side project for Verizon mobile phones titled Kingdom Hearts V CAST released in 2004. It is not considered canon and is one of the few entries not developed by Square Enix. The game can no longer be legally purchased after the shut down of the Verizon V CAST in 2012.
The proper sequel, Kingdom Hearts II, released on PlayStation 2 in 2005. The game picks up right after the events of Chain of Memories left off and received praise for improving on the first game in many ways. A Final Mix version was released in 2007 with new content.
Another mobile game was released in 2008 titled Kingdom Hearts coded. This game was released episodically over a year and exists to explain plot holes in Kingdom Hearts II. All episodes were later combined and released on Nintendo DS in 2011, titled Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. A web browser game tie in titled Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Gummiship Studio released as a studio to make a Gummi Ship. Around the same time, a mobile domain titled Kingdom Hearts Mobile was released and contained all episodes of coded as well as ringtones, wallpapers, and minigames.
A proper console release came in 2009 with Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (pronounced Three-Five-Eight Days Over Two). The game is based on the adventures of Roxas parallel to the events of Chain of Memories and explains plot holes in several games. A tie in web browser game titled Kingdom Hearts Magical Puzzle Clash released as a minigame collection.
A prequel entry titled Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep released on PlayStation Portable in 2010. Based on the adventures of Aqua, Terra, and Ventus, the game is set ten years before the events of the first game and explains plot mysteries that have persisted since the beginning. This game received the Final Mix treatment in 2011.
An entry for Nintendo 3DS titled Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in 2012 and was the first game since Kingdom Hearts II to properly advance the story. The game was remastered as Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD in 2017.
In 2013, a web browser game titled Kingdom Hearts χ (pronounced key) was released as a prequel to every game released prior. The game was fully remade for mobile devices in 2015 titled Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ, which was renamed in 2017 to Kingdom Hearts Union χ (pronounced Union Cross). A companion game was released in 2020, titled Kingdom Hearts: Dark Road, that explains the origin of several characters. The games have since been shut down, but the cutscenes in theatre mode are still available to download.
In addition to Kingdom Hearts χ, 2013 brought forth to light the beginning of compiling the series in HD remaster collections. Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, and remade cutscenes of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days were compiled on PlayStation 3 as Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX. In 2014, HD remasters of Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep: Final Mix, and remade cutscenes of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded were also collected on PlayStation 3 as Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX. In 2017, both collections were remastered again and combined on PlayStation 4 as Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX; the same year. Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD, an abbreviated cinematic adaptation of Kingdom Hearts χ titled Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover and an original entry titled Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- were collected on PlayStation 4 as Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. The two collections were then placed into another collection for the PlayStation 4 as one called Kingdom Hearts The Story So Far.
All the way back in 2013, a teaser trailer for Kingdom Hearts III was revealed to be in development, with Nomura admitting the game was announced to the public far too early. Development progress was slow and steady, as Nomura was also directing Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake. Sporadic updates occurred for many years afterward until it was finally released in early 2019 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This game's story marked the end to the Dark Seeker Saga, which had been going on since the first game. Also in 2019, Kingdom Hearts VR Experience released exclusively on PlayStation VR as a walking simulator of various worlds. The series's first official piece downloadable content was released roughly one year later as Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind, which explains plot elements in the base game, reintroduces elements seen in Final Mixes, and opens the door to a brand new story arc for the franchise. Kingdom Hearts III would later be bundled with everything seen in the The Story So Far bundle and released as Kingdom Hearts All-In-One Package.
A rhythm game released in 2020 titled Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory. It is also the first game in the series to appear on a Nintendo console since Dream Drop Distance eight years prior.
The Kingdom Hearts franchise also comprises several other media, including soundtracks, several different series of manga and light novels, Ultimania novels and a canceled television series.
The Kingdom Hearts universe makes its highly-requested debut in Challenger Pack 11 as part of the Fighters Pass Vol. 2, in the form of a fighter, a stage, 10 music tracks (1 being obtainable with save data for Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory), and 13 spirits.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Kingdom Hearts series)
Hikari -KINGDOM Orchestra Instrumental Version-, an orchestral version of the theme song from the original Kingdom Hearts, appears in Sora's reveal trailer.
Main article: List of spirits (Kingdom Hearts series)
Games with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series